Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Frightened City - Movie Review

By Monica Sullivan

"The Frightened City" has oodles of repeat value because the plot will zoom out of your head five minutes after you see it. Herbert Lom and John Gregson star as Waldo Zhernikov & Detective Inspector Sayers and Sean Connery is billed third as Paddy Damion. His hairline is quite high here, so I suspect that IS a rug he's wearing in 1962's "Dr.No" and all the subsequent Bond films. All the pretty girls wear tight, low-cut dresses and director John Lemont never misses a chance to emphasize their best assets including their navels during one dance sequence in a nightclub. He's wise to do that because all the musical numbers here are ghastly.

We see Connery doing manly things from the start, like judo, and then we watch him take a shower and change into an undershirt, slacks and tight pullover shirt with no tie. There's plenty of American style thugs in this one with names like Tanky Thomas, Nero, Sanchetti, Salty Brewer, Lippy Green and Basher Prebble (you get the idea) and many, many fights, which are a relief after all that singing and dancing. Composer Norrie Paramour, who appears here as the Taboo Club's pianist, wrote the film's featured songs, "Marvelous Lie" and "I Laughed At Love" with lyricist Bunny Lewis. Produced by Lemant and screenwriter Leigh Vance.

© 2009 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 08/26/09
Movie Magazine International

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Crime Of Passion - Movie Review

By Monica Sullivan

Ah, the joys of 1957 when men were men and women twiddled their thumbs. Kathy Ferguson (Barbara Stanwyck) begins the movie "Crime of Passion" with an exciting job as a columnist for a San Francisco newspaper. She even plays a key role in clearing up a murder case. She's en route to Manhattan on a fast-paced career track when she makes a quick stop in Los Angeles to meet Detective Lieutenant Bill Doyle of the Los Angeles Police Department (Sterling Hayden) for dinner. One thing leads to another and before you can say "darn my socks for me darling" she is Mrs. Bill Doyle, trapped in a suburb with no outlet for her tremendous energy.

She's bored with her life and she hates Bill's friends on the force and their wives, so she takes up a new hobby, promoting Bill's career. This means sleeping with the boss, Inspector Tony Pope (Raymond Burr) and alienating him from other detectives who might get the job she wants Bill to have. See what happens when a gal leaves a great job to do nothing? Even though Kathy Ferguson Doyle is basically a screw up, Barbara Stanwyck invests the role with eloquence and angst. The dull life that her character rails about is everything she says it is. The obvious choice over forty years later isn't ever mentioned as an option: Go back to the job you love and if Bill doesn't like it, tough. This seems eminently more sensible than to sleep with Bill's boss, but don't tell Bill, and make sure you do something to get caught, so Bill will fell like a sap.

Anyway, there's a lot of rage against women in "Crime of Passion" but you can't stop watching it because of Barbara Stanwyck and Raymond Burr. Sterling Hayden's thankless part must have grated on him after starring in "The Asphalt Jungle" for John Huston and "The Killing" for Stanley Kubrick and yes, that is Stuart Whitman in a bit as a lab technician four years away from his 1961 Academy Award nomination for "The Mark" made in England. "Crime of Passion" is available on home video. Check it out late some night. It's too much.

© 2009 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 07/22/09
Movie Magazine International

The Tenant - Movie Review

By Monica Sullivan

"The Tenant" is my all-time favorite movie about apartment living. Director Roman Polanski casts himself as Trekolvsky, a meek little Polish file clerk by day who does his best to be a conscientious & thoughtful tenant at night, but only succeeds in getting pushed around by his neighbors. Trekolvsky discovers that his predecessor in his Paris apartment bumped herself off & he fears that a similar fate is in store for him. "The Tenant" is a surreal blend of terror & humor with a conclusion that has to be seen to be believed. It makes sense within the context of the story, but when you think twice about it (& you will think about "The Tenant" again & again), you may wonder how any filmmaker would dare to get away with it. Polanski at his best is in a class by himself & if he could get away with slicing up Jack Nicholson's nose in 1974's "Chinatown," he could certainly get away with the operatic twists & turns of poor little Trekolvsky's life. The fact that the cast includes so many wonderful character actors from all the world is a delightful bonus: Melvyn Douglas as Monsieur Zy, Jo Van Fleet as Madame Dioz, Lila Kedrova as Madame Gaderian, Shelley Winters as the Concierge...You may want to see this gem two or three times to appreciate all the details you missed the first or second time around.

© 2009 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 08/19/09
Movie Magazine International